By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Mexican folklore-inspired adventure series has broad appeal.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The series explores Mexican legends and folklore, as well as different belief systems and traditions from around the world -- including Greek myths, Japanese customs and Kaiju monsters, and the Jersey Devil in 19th-century America.
The series encourages viewers to celebrate their differences and draw on their inner strength. It also teaches not to make assumptions about others and to be curious and open to new experiences. Beliefs have both power for good and bad, and fear and ignorance can be dangerous. Teamwork is also key.
Positive Role Models
Leo evolves from being embarrassed by his gifts because they make him different to embracing them and using them to help others. He shows responsibility and leadership skills, as well as empathy and concern for those around him. His friends offer comic value but also have their own problem-solving strengths and value loyalty and friendship. Teodora is a good example of not judging a book by its cover; her feminine pink and purple clothes -- traditionally used to portray a character as shallow or unintelligent -- work alongside her smarts, resilience, and resourcefulness.
The lead character, Leo, is Mexican and frequently references Mexican traditions and folklore. His heritage is an important part of his character, but he also has an array of personality traits, including self-deprecating humor, and his experiences of growing up, relationships, and taking on challenges will be universally familiar. Another main character is a magical Alebrije creature, and there are two supporting characters who are Calaveras -- candy skulls -- all based on Mexican folklore. The film visits countries around the world to represent different cultures, which are achieved with some historical accuracy and some elements of stereotype -- though never actively negative. Characters do adhere to some gender stereotypes, with young women mostly dressed in pink and purple skirts and dresses, referred to as "yammering" and "gossiping," and serving as a love interest to Leo as part of their role. There's some attempt to challenge this by also presenting female characters as confident and self-assured, such as when Marcella shows a desire to play football or when Teodora proves her physical strength and leadership skills. Elsewhere, there's a lack of diversity in fields such as LGBTQ characters, body size, and those with disabilities.
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Violence & Scariness
While there is no strong violence, there is a near-constant level of threat from mythical monsters of various types. Some destroy whole villages, with the inhabitants presumed dead. There are multiple ghost characters, including two within the main friendship group. Characters are possessed, haunted, attacked by monsters and other humans, chased by zombie-like creatures, shot at by cannons, struck with objects, tied to stakes, and fall from great heights, among other things.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Leo and Marcella share a kiss.
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Negative language includes "damnable," "butt," "dumb," "stupid," "weirdo," "freak," and "ugly." A female character is said to "yammer," "prattle," and "gossip."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Legend Quest is an animated adventure series about a Mexican boy and his supernatural friends (ghosts, a shape-shifting animal, and two Mexican candy-sugar skulls) who team up against a nefarious serpent god. The story is set in the 19th century and is heavily inspired by Mexican folklore, as well as other myths and traditions from around the world, which offers the potential to spark curiosity, as well as some educational value. There are enough historical references and injections of humor to appeal to adults, making this a great pick for parents and kids to watch together -- particularly because of some more frightening moments featuring threats from various monsters. Also expect to hear words like "damnable," "butt," "stupid," "dumb," and "freak." All in all, though, this is a unique addition to tweens' options that ups the diversity among likable young heroes and heroines.
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What's the Story?
In LEGEND QUEST, Leo San Juan voiced by Benny Emmanuel has always tried to hide his ability to communicate with supernatural forces, but when a monster threatens the people in his village, he must embrace his unique gift to save them. This sets off a series of adventures around the world with his team: Don Andres (Andrés Couturier), the eccentric conquistador ghost, the unflappable tech-savvy Teodora (Annemarie Blanco), and Alebrije (Paul Tei), a shape-shifting, multicolored creature of Mexican folklore. Together this intrepid group faces off with a range of creatures, from the Jersey Devil to a Kaiju, to protect the world from the evil intentions of the serpent god Quetzalcoatl.
Is It Any Good?
This animated series is a fun standout among tween-geared cartoons, featuring a Mexican main character who learns to accept himself and celebrate his differences. Leo begins the story in a predicament that's familiar to many kids (and perhaps adults): feeling the need to hide the fact that there's something unusual about him for fear of what others will think. It's only when he comes to accept his uniqueness that he's able to step up and help his neighbors and his community and realize his full potential.
That said, Legend Quest's monsters can be pretty scary. And the idea that, in many cases, they're out for total human domination or annihilation is a dark and potentially overwhelming concept for younger viewers . Most kids in this show's target audience likely can handle this kind of content, but it's worth checking it out first for more sensitive viewers before giving them the OK. On the upside, rooting the enjoyable show in Mexican folklore, as well as exploring other cultures and myths around the world, could inspire kids' interest in related topics.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about diversity on TV. Kids: Is there much diversity in your favorite shows? Is that factor important to you? Why, or why not?
What inspires Leo to feel differently about the fact that he's different from everyone else? Have you ever felt like the odd one out? Is that necessarily a bad thing, or can it be a positive?
What role do legends fill in modern society? How do they give insight into the past and its people? What can we learn from studying the past?
Families also can talk about teamwork. How does Leo work along with his friends? What other character strengths are important to develop?
- Premiere date: February 24, 2017
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Great Boy Role Models, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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